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Getting the most out of your EV’s range
Nowhere is the relationship between your right foot and vehicle efficiency more obvious than in an electric car. With the amount of range available to you constantly in view, your style of driving will impact how fast you are heading for battery depletion: a light, efficient foot will see you with enough charge to reach your destination; a stronger, more robust approach to the throttle will impact your range and may require an emergency top up.
So what’s the best way to extend the range of an EV?
More efficient journey planning
Long motorway journeys and hard acceleration will see the range on your electric car drop more quickly than on gentler A roads where you can drive at a lower, steadier pace. It may take you longer to reach your destination, but the energy savings may mean you don’t need to stop for a battery top-up. So plan your business appointments in advance. If necessary, identify where you can recharge your car’s battery for onward and return journeys, and remember quickest isn’t always best for an EV.
If your car has a satnav system that includes the most range-efficient route option, then use it.
Be smart with the weather. Don’t drain the range
Factors such as the weather can affect your EV’s range, whether it’s the rain, sun, or cold. And how you react to these conditions can drain your range. Typical items include heated front seats and the air conditioning system. However, there are little tricks to help overcome some of the effects of weather on car range. If it’s particularly hot or cold, then it’s best to use the pre-conditioning function available on most EVs.
The pre-conditioning function enables you to raise or lower the temperature inside the car while it’s still charging, using the electrical energy from the mains rather than the car’s own battery. This is particularly useful on very cold mornings when your vehicle is plugged into your home charger – you’ll enjoy stepping into a pre-heated car with no requirement to scrape the frost off the windows.
If it’s hot, run the fan and not the air conditioning compressor where possible; if it’s chilly, reduce the climate control and use the less energy-intensive heated seats and/or heated steering wheel.
Go Eco, go further
EVs have several driving mode options that change the vehicle’s performance characteristics. Sport, as you might expect, ups the tempo and responsiveness of the car; normal is a comfortable everyday driving mode; while an Eco option places the emphasis on energy preservation. Some EVs even have an Eco+ function.
Choosing the Eco mode is certainly the best way to ‘stretch’ the battery range of your car the furthest. But choosing this mode means you will find the throttle feels dampened and often those power-consuming features – such as the air conditioning – are switched off. But it’s a sure-fire answer to get the most out of your battery.
If you are getting low on charge towards the end of your journey, switch on the Eco mode – it will add vital extra miles to your range.
Replen with regen
One of the simplest ways to assist the car’s range is to drive as smoothly as possible. The other is to use the regenerative braking feature (regen). When you step off the accelerator, the regenerative braking feature replenishes the battery by capturing what would otherwise be lost energy. It also reduces your speed. Putting both factors together – a smoother driving style with the use of regenerative braking – and you will be surprised at how much energy conservation is possible.
EVs can have different regenerative braking settings – use the strongest to get the most out of your car’s range.
Fifty is the new seventy
Where possible keep your speed below 60mph – it will make your EV go further. The Energy Saving Trust says the difference between driving at 50 mph and 70 mph is a 36% lower range. For an EV with a 250-mile capability, that’s a reduction of 90 miles. So driving slower gives you more miles.
Use slower A-roads rather than motorways for greater battery range.
Keep your battery in good health
It might seem sensible to always top up your battery to 100% capacity, but continually doing so will gradually reduce your battery’s range as the battery degrades. It’s more efficient to top it up to 80% whenever possible to ensure your car’s electrons go further and your battery stays fitter.
Use your car’s app to limit the charge to 80% capacity.
Pump it up
One tyre specialist told us the most environmentally effective action you can take is to keep your tyres at optimum pressure. Underinflated tyres cause drag which uses up energy and gives you less range.
Don’t go for the biggest alloys on the options list – they look great but add to your car’s rolling resistance.
While some of this might seem overly complicated to non-EV drivers, or those considering going electric, it’s surprising how easy it becomes to work these features and adapt your driving style to suit.
And remember, should you find yourself not quite in reach of an emergency charge and the battery almost empty, most electric cars will switch to a ‘limp home’ mode. In this state performance is severely restricted to enable you to travel as far as possible on the battery charge that is left – or get you to a place that is safe to stop and the emergency services can be contacted. While not advisable to reach this point, it is helpful to know.
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